Hello there! Please have a seat. Now, what seems to be the trouble here? Well, as we discovered from the recent survey from the WHO (↗) , more than 60% of the people put antibiotics to a wrong use. That is definitely the trouble. Someone uses antibiotics as a prophylactic measure (it doesn't work that way), someone cures virus diseases – such as cold or flu – using antibiotics (although they only affect bacteria, which are slightly different from viruses). Rest of the people just do not follow all the instructions for the drugs – for instance, they do not take the full course of preparations, as they feel better after half of it, so they stop taking medicine. The problem of all those cases is that none of those actions kill the bacteria in the human body. On the contrary, such actions give the bacteria time to adapt – or "to create an antimicrobial resistance". After that, the antibiotics won't be able to affect the upgraded bacteria. Therefore, one can do nothing with this bacteria. Because of that, even now hundreds of thousands of people die every year.
Our team had to come up with a way to inform both patients and doctors about that problem. You would ask – why doctors, don't they know about that problem? But the thing is that in Ukraine there is this unfortunate case where the doctors may advise the patients to take antibiotics as a precaution, which is unacceptable. As usual, we had to do our job with limited budget and against the clock – so we had to come up with something quickly and outright.
It was sweet 2017, and even grandmas discussed rap battles while gossiping on the benches. No wonder we struck out a plan to record a medical rap song. Meaning that we had to convince real doctors to read some rap about this global antibiotic resistance problem. And then we had to persuade the WHO to sign on to this project. And then we had to ask to rent a hospital to shoot this song. That's a long story short.
And what was the most difficult in all that is that we had to do not just some kind of joke, but to deliver an important message to the people who'll watch it. The problem is real, so the doctors should be real as well. We were afraid that if we told that to high-level professional doctors and to the best and most creative interns of Ukraine, they wouldn't even want to listen to us. A rap song? Are you even sane? But, to our surprise, instead of all that we heard only "Wow, what an idea! I'm in!". The doctors turned out to be incredibly creative and spirited actors.
We developed a storytelling, we convinced everyone we had to convince, and in two weeks' time the project was finished. After the first post in the social media, without any promo, the medical rap appeared in prime-time TV news of all the important Ukrainian TV channels. Stars of the video – anesthesiologist Serhii Dubrov, immunologist Fedir Lapii, infection control expert Andrii Aleksandrin, doctor and expert Yevhenii Honchar, epidemiologist Kateryna Soiak, then-intern Oleksandra Boiko and sixth-year student of National Medical University Kseniya Mykhailiuk – gained lots of attention. As did Ukrainian Office of WHO and PHC – they were overwhelmed by the amount of requests about the problem, although almost no-one noticed it earlier. That was how we used the power of edutainment to turn an important, but neglected problem into a business of the day.
To be continued.